The Syracuse Orange (1) are preparing to take on the Kansas State Wildcats (8) in the Third Round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
K-State is coming off an inspiring victory against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, while the Orange are reeling and taking criticism for nearly losing to a No. 16 seed UNC-Asheville team.
Keep reading to find out where to watch this looming matchup, what the spread is and a prediction on the final score.
Where: Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA
When: Saturday, March 17 at 12:15 p.m. EDT
TV Schedule: CBS
Betting Line: Syracuse -4.5 (Via ScoresAndOdds)
Key Injuries (via StatFox)
Fab Melo – OUT (Eligibility)
No Major Injuries to Report
What's At Stake?
A Sweet 16 spot.
Obviously, every game is critical in the NCAA Tournament and both teams are going to fight like hell to win this one and advance one step closer to a national championship.
Syracuse looks vulnerable right now and K-State easily handled their business down the stretch against Southern Miss.
It’s going to be a good battle and an extremely close 1 vs. 8 seed matchup.
What They're Saying
Lenn Robbins of the New York Post found that K-State coach Frank Martin respects Syracuse and Jim Boeheim too much to think his Wildcats will have it easy going up against the Orange without Fab Melo.
“Fab becomes an unbelievable presence in a game,’’ said Martin. “But they know what they have to do without him. It’s not like this is their first rodeo without Fab. They’ve had to go out and win hard games on the road against Big East teams.
“Coach [Jim] Boeheim has won 1,000,027 games, or whatever, he’s won,’’ Martin added. “ I think he knows what he’s doing.”
Most Important Player to Watch: James Southerland
The 6’8”, 215-pound junior came up huge against UNC-Asheville when his team needed him to avoid becoming the first No. 1 seed upset by a No. 16.
He piled in 15 points and collected eight boards in his 29 minutes off the bench.
If he can continue playing big like that, the loss of Melo might not be such a huge issue after all.
Key Matchup: 3-Point Shooting
Neither K-State or ‘Cuse shot particular well from deep in their round of 64 matchups.
The Wildcats hit just 2-12 from range and will need to improve upon that if they want to bust the Orange zone.
Asheville threw a zone look right back at Syracuse and Boeheim’s boys were only able to connect on 5 of their 23 attempts.
Whoever can get their shot to drop from behind the arc will have a great chance to come away with the win in this battle.
Syracuse 75 – Kansas State 72
This is going to be a back and forth game but the experience and talent on
Syracuse will shine through late and sway the contest.
Look for both teams to scrap until the final buzzer